Executive summary

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An executive summary stands as an integral element in both scholarly and commercial reports, usually making up about 5 to 10% of the total document size. It’s crafted for a particular audience and arranged in concise, digestible paragraphs. The executive summary initiates with a succinct synopsis and mirrors the order of the primary report. This summary acts as a critical communication instrument, establishing an initial touchpoint between the writer and the reader. It possesses the capability to sway their decision to continue reading the complete report and significantly impacts their initial perception. While it’s a beneficial tool, it has been reproached for potentially oversimplifying intricate matters, causing crucial aspects to be missed, and inducing readers to adopt a reductive perspective. It might also lead to the homogenization of research and debates, which could diminish the quality of specific documents, such as governmental policies.

Executive summary (Wikipedia)

An executive summary (or management summary, sometimes also called speed read) is a short document or section of a document produced for business purposes. It summarizes a longer report or proposal or a group of related reports in such a way that readers can rapidly become acquainted with a large body of material without having to read it all. It usually contains a brief statement of the problem or proposal covered in the major document(s), background information, concise analysis and main conclusions. It is intended as an aid to decision-making by managers and has been described as the most important part of a business plan.

An executive summary was formerly known as a summary. It differs from an abstract in that an abstract will usually be shorter and is typically intended as an overview or orientation rather than being a condensed version of the full document. Abstracts are extensively used in academic research where the concept of the executive summary is not in common usage. "An abstract is a brief summarizing statement... read by parties who are trying to decide whether or not to read the main document", while "an executive summary, unlike an abstract, is a document in miniature that may be read in place of the longer document".

In common usage the term "executive summary" is a synonym for "summary" and has partially displaced that term.

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